Whatever we do in life, whether it’s as a job of work, or simply something we do for our own pleasure, we almost always need a starting point of inspiration, particularly if we’re being creative. A lot of the time, there is some kind of reason for this creative need and, therefore, there’s probably some sort of time constraint. So we need something to inspire us and inspire us quickly.
With this in mind, if you’re a jobbing musician whose bread and butter is a constant stream of jobs that require speedy construction and timely delivery, you’re going to need some tools to start the flow of creative juices and help you deliver something of quality and deliver it when required. And luckily, there are a great many tools for musicians today that fit that bill. But some seem to be specifically designed for this purpose more than others. And Sample Logic‘s new tool, CINEMORPHX, is very much of this type. CINEMORPHX is a Kontakt-based sample library and is delivered as a single .NKI instrument. Load it once and that’s all you need to do. All patch control is performed within the scripted interface.
Sample Logic have taken three of their products and, effectively, merged them in to one, singular beast of a library that clocks in at over 6000 patches and 30GB of digital footprint. It also comes with what some might say is an equally huge price tag of $599. But then what price do you place on a tool that claims it can help you create entire pieces in rapid time? If their claims are to be believed, CINEMORPHX will probably return your investment within a couple of jobs. So, what is CINEMORPHX and can it justify it’s weighty size and price tag?
Put simply, Sample Logic have combined three of their previous tools, namely A.I.R., Synergy and Elements, into one malleable beast. These three tools delivered a huge number of sounds and score-building tools and textures and Sample Logic have seen sense to combine them into one instrument that can not only utilise each of their unique sounds but also allow the user to blend and morph them into something new. They achieve this by giving you four cores, each of which is delivering a patch with its own settings and controls. For example, one core can deliver a rhythmic loop, another a drone type sound, a third can give you an arpeggiated riff and the fourth can give you a cutting synth lead. Blended together, these sounds can give you a rich, diverse texture that can be played in a number of ways, but when you start morphing between the cores, you can balance the sources in favour of one or more and create something new and evolving that retains the original character of the patch. Thus, if you’re scoring a piece and want to retain a “feel” or “theme”, you can use a single patch to deliver numerous cues that all share the same sonic heritage. And within each core, you can morph between two different samples, giving you even more variation and diversity.
And this morphing lark is made even more fun when you start assigning the X & Y axis to a physical controller. Smooth, sweeping and evolving sounds now seamlessly morph and you instantly get spirited away in to some wonderful creative places. Turn on the Mod Wheel switch on one or more cores and you can also morph between the two layers within each core whilst still blending the four cores in real time, should you be that dextrous! But should you run out of fingers or other appendages, there are useful automated tools that can automate all the morphing for you, be it morphing within a specific core, or the central morphing tool. There are numerous preset automations but you can record your own which gives you almost total control over how CINEMORPHX behaves. A perfect blend of power and control.
Any rapid construction tool such as this requires a huge number of presets but it also requires them to be easily accessible and properly categorised. The instrument browser in CINEMORPHX allows you to choose between patches that use a single core and those that use multiple cores. Both single and multi core presets have categories for Atmospheres, Instrumentals, Loops and Percussives. Multi core patches also have a “One Note Combo” category and within the four main categories in single core, they are further broken down by style, such as “dark”, “organic”, “electronic”, “melodic” and many more. It is clear from these categorisations that CINEMORPHX is aimed squarely at the film/TV/game composer market and after just a few minutes patch-surfing, this is more than evident. However, I would not suggest that it isn’t a tool that shouldn’t be considered outside of that realm. I can easily see it as an inspiring tool for musicians in all kinds of genres and fields of work. But CINEMORPHX is most definitely a tool for scoring composers looking for some immediate inspiration and gratification.
You may think that, given the powerful morphing and blending tools on offer that you’d have no real reason to venture outside of the multi-core mode, but even in single core mode, you still have the ability to load up two samples and then morph between them, applying all sorts of envelopes and FX on each voice to deliver some beautiful and deeply evolving sounds. And on the subject of FX, CINEMORPHX has them in spades along with other tools such as a Step-Animator that allows you to create stepped variations within your patches. With this tool, one can create moving velocity triggers, stuttering effects, note transpositions, panning, arpeggiations and more, with up to 128 steps for the truly adventurous!
All of this is routed through the built in mixer that also allows for 4 channel FX to be applied to each channel strip, further extending the sonic capabilities of this instrument.
If all of this flexibility and power seems a bit daunting, rest easy! Sample Logic have teamed up with AskVideo.com to deliver a 20 part tutorial course completely free of charge to all CINEMORPHX owners!
Overall, this is a huge instrument with seemingly infinite possibilities. In fact, Sample Logic claim there to be 10,995,116,277,760,000,000,000,000,000 possible sonic combinations within CINEMORPHX. But if you’re in the business of scoring to film, TV or video games, and you need a go-to tool that can help you rapidly deliver something of undeniable quality in rapid time, CINEMORPHX could very well be that tool. This is not a simple instrument for the average bedroom producer, but that isn’t to say it wouldn’t be useful to them. It is one of those rare instruments that delivers both instant gratification as well as long term exploration. I would be in no doubt that if I were to receive a commission with a very tight deadline, CINEMORPHX would be my very first port of call and, whether or not it featured heavily in the final piece, it would certainly get me going on the right track. The sheer depth of instrumentation on offer, from pads to leads, from drum loops to percussion and beyond means that you should always find something to fit the bill within minutes rather than hours.
What don’t I like about it? Well, for a start, it is Kontakt only. The only thing to redeem this is the fact that it WILL work with NI’s free Kontakt Player with no constraints at all. That’s the tool I used to review it in, and therefore I can’t comment on how it works with the full version of Kontakt. I am not the biggest fan of Kontakt in the world, for numerous reasons. I don’t like its cluttered interface, and Sample Logic have retained much of the standard Kontakt font sizes and styles, making it a tad unpleasant on the eye, for me anyway. I have a 27″ iMac and even with my glasses on, I find myself yearning for something bigger and clearer on my screen. When you drag the corner of the Kontakt window, the only thing that gets more screen real estate is the browser, and given that CINEMORPHX is a single .NKI instrument, I really don’t need that. So all I can do is increase the vertical size and that’s just not enough. But this isn’t Sample Logic’s fault and it may not be an issue for many. It is simply my personal preference and one of the reasons I prefer other instruments and software samplers. I know Kontakt is considered an industry standard, but in my opinion, it is a poor one. I have yet to be convinced otherwise.
But this is the only thing I can find wrong with this tool, and so, given that Sample logic are working within the limitations of the host, I shan’t let that detract from what is an incredibly deep, rewarding and impressive instrument. It’s big, and therefore, has a bit of a wait when initially loading but once it is in, it is responsive and surprisingly CPU efficient. This is the first time I’ve really played with an instrument that is specifically designed for scoring to picture and I can see why Sample Logic have become renowned in the field. Put simply, if this is your game, CINEMORPHX is the player that makes the starting line up for every match.
Here are the System Requirements:
And a breakdown of the sound categories: